It’s the first day of winter, which means ice and snow may soon be on the way—as well as an increased risk of fires caused by home heating, warns Gloucester Township firefighters.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), heating fires—the second-leading cause of house fires—are most prevalent in December, January, and February as people try to keep themselves warm.
Space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in these kinds of fires, contributing in forty percent of reported incidents—that’s two out of every five house fires. Fireplaces and portable generators can also be risky if used incorrectly.
Luckily, there are ways to keep safe and warm during the winter. Here are some important guidelines that you and your family should follow:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month, and make sure to install and monitor carbon monoxide (CO) detectors within your home as well.
For more information about winter fire safety and prevention, visit www.NFPA.org.
Go Beyond: Become a Volunteer Firefighter and Protect Your Community
You can also help ensure the safety of citizens beyond your home as a volunteer firefighter in Gloucester Township.
The Glendora, Chews Landing, Blenheim and Erial companies are looking for people to serve as senior and junior firefighters. Senior firefighters must be at least 18 years old, and the junior program starts at age 16. Training and equipment is provided free of cost for both of these roles.
“I volunteer to better myself, give back to the community, and because I love the fire service,” says Brice McCarthy, a volunteer with Chews Landing.
Become a part of a tradition of volunteering and a passion for firefighting – sign up now at www.firefightersofgloucestertwp.org.